When it comes to dog food, the choices are overwhelming.
Every brand claims to deliver the nutrients your dog needs. So which are actually healthy and how can you tell?
In this post, we’re going over what to look for when shopping and options for the best dry food for dogs.
What to Look for in a Dry Food for Dogs
The #1 thing to check when you’re shopping for dry dog food is the ingredient list and label. Here’s a simple fact that will help: ingredients are listed in order of their weight in the product. That means the ones at the top of the list are more prominent and the ones at the bottom make up less of the food. So, you’ll want to see the healthy, protein foods at the top and any lesser healthy ingredients (if any) at the bottom.
With that in mind, here’s what you should look out for:
- Animal Protein. The first ingredient you should see on the ingredient list of a best dry food for dogs is the protein type. It should be labeled as to what animal it came from—chicken, lamb, beef, duck, turkey, etc. If it lists something like “meat” instead of specifying which type of meat, there’s really no way to tell. Usually, this is the case when the mystery meat is so low-quality that it’s better not to be specific and scare away the consumer. Watch out for that!
- Animal Protein Meal. Usually, when an animal protein is first on the list, it’s followed by an animal “meal” which can be a mixture of meat, skin, tissue and more. This helps amp up the protein content. Again, it’s best if the type of meal is specified. However, a dry food’s protein source shouldn’t just be meal; there should be an actual animal meat, as discussed above.
- Vegetables or Fruits. Fruits and veggies provide vitamins and nutrients necessary for dogs. Sometimes, the ingredient will list a specific part of a vegetable rather than the whole version. This is usually okay as long as it’s fulfilling your dog’s requirements.
- Whole Grains. Just like us, dogs need some whole grains in their diet. Check out which type the brand uses and evaluate whether it’s a healthy form.
In addition to what you should look out for, here’s what you want to avoid:
- Unspecified protein sources (i.e. “meat)
- Unspecified fat sources (i.e. “animal fat”)
- Artificial colors or flavors
- Added sweeteners
The best dry food for dogs tend to have natural forms of preservatives. Although this is a good thing, natural preservatives tend to last a shorter amount of time. For this reason, it’s important to check the best before date before buying, particularly with high-quality brands. If you’re expecting the bag to last a few months but it expires in two, you’ll waste the product, so be sure to look.
5 Best Dry Food for Dogs
Wellness Complete Health Dry Dog Food
The first 5 ingredients are deboned chicken, chicken meal, oatmeal, ground barley and peas.
That means your dog is getting a specified animal protein and meal. The ground barley and oatmeal fulfill your dog’s need for whole gains. And peas, chickpeas and lentils help round out the veggie requirement as well as add extra protein.
Taste of the Wild Dry Dog Food
The first 5 ingredients are buffalo, lamb meal, chicken meal, sweet potatoes and peas.
That means your dog gets 3 different protein sources: Buffalo meat along with lamb and chicken meal to keep her full. Sweet potatoes and peas give her some veggies. Reading the ingredient deck further, you’ll also find whole grains like barley.
Blue Buffalo Dry Dog Food
The first 5 ingredients are deboned chicken, chicken meal, brown rice, barley and oatmeal.
That means your dog is getting a good protein source both in the form of deboned chicken and meal. It’s made complete by a variety of whole-grain sources too, like brown rice, barley and oatmeal. Looking down on the list, we have veggies too, like dried tomato pomace, carrots and sweet potatoes.
Orijen Dry Dog Food
The first 5 ingredients are deboned chicken, deboned turkey, Atlantic ﬂounder, cage-free eggs and whole Atlantic mackerel.
That means your dog gets a whole bunch of specified animal protein sources: chicken, turkey, eggs and fish. Looking down on the list, there’s even more variety protein for your pup. For fiber, there’s also lentils, beans, chickpeas and pumpkin. This is a great option for grain-free dogs.
Pure Balance Dry Dog Food
The first 5 ingredients are chicken, chicken meal, dried peas, pea starch and whole ground potato.
That means your dog is getting a specified protein and meal source. The dried peas add fiber and bumps up the protein. Looking further on the list, we also have turkey meal and chicken fat, two healthy ingredients for a balanced food. We find more veggies on the list too, like carrots, celery and spinach. Pure Balance is one of the best dry dog foods that’s also easily accessible and affordable. This is also another grain-free alternative.